Merit of the initiative, however, extends far beyond the award.
E2, a collaboration of the Henry Chamber of Commerce and Henry County School System, is an action plan for education and workforce development with five distinct goals — increase the high school graduation rate, improve academic rank among top Georgia school systems, secure a technical college and increase dual enrollment, become a certified work ready community and improve school readiness.
Kay Pippin, president of the Henry County Chamber of Commerce, said the initiative has been a work in progress since 2010.
“[The chamber] hosts an intergovernmental retreat each year where all the elected and appointed government officials talk on a topic of common concern for our community,” she said. “During the 2010 retreat, the topic was education and workforce development.”
During the course of two days, around 60 Henry County officials met and discussed ways to improve education and workforce development. The result of the retreat was the realization that there was much work to be done.
“We commissioned a taskforce to work beyond the two-day retreat,” Pippin said. “As a community we wanted to take our school system from a good one to a great one.”
From the tail end of 2010 and into 2011, a total nine-month period, 104 stakeholders within the county met continuously in work groups.
A year after that period, final recommendations were offered and the implementation process began, which continues to be an on-going process.
Several accomplishments have been made thus far that Pippin said she was proud of.
“We have a few items that we have checked off,” said Pippin. “We orchestrated a grassroots lobbying effort to secure a technical college in Henry County. That project is now underway for the first building of what will be a Southern Technical College campus, an extension of the school out of Griffin.”
Pippin also highlighted achieving the goal of becoming a work ready community and establishment of a mentoring program, for which they are currently recruiting mentors, to improve their academic rankings as other accomplishments.
The chamber president said she remains in awe at the journey the initiative has led them on.
“It has truly blown me away with what we have been able to achieve,” Pippin said. “We have convinced our leadership across the board that the work of the school system and the school board cannot be done by just them. It can indeed take the village to raise successful schools.”